The rolling bassline intro of ‘Whoever You Are’ heralded the beginning of The Brian Jonestown Massacre show and, as the stage lights blazed in full, there wasn’t a solid body guitar to be seen!

Initially, the sound technicians at the packed Hi-Fi room seemingly struggled with the balance. Perhaps that was to be expected with so many jangly guitars competing for the top-end space.

‘Who?’ followed swiftly while guitarist Ricky Maymi’s 12-string number really began to cut through nicely in the mid-range.  It became apparent quite early that the show would evolve into a ‘greatest hits’ performance – though, for some reason, the group appeared to be weary despite it only being midway through their Australian tour.

‘Got My Eye On You’ drew a wry smile from percussionist/vibe controller Joel Gion as he delivered the punchy lyrics that are always a favourite among the group’s fans.

The drawling guitars and tambourine-driven percussion during ‘Anenome’ sent the crowd into rapture. After the band’s founder Anton Newcombe reached for the high notes on ‘Jennifer’, the group delivered the only two new tracks to feature in the set. From there, it was back down the path well travelled as ‘Wisdom’, ‘Sailor’, and ‘Open Heart Surgery’ proved to be singalong sensations.

The set drew heavily from the group’s mid-90s catalogue, with tracks from Methodrone and Take it From The Man! providing the bulk, while 2001’s Bravery, Repetition And Noise filled in most of the gaps.

However, for a band that has released prolific work throughout the years, overall this was an unremarkable set. The songs were tried and true hits delivered by accomplished musicians who can – and at times, did – throw down numbers with their eyes closed. Despite this, the show was as underwhelming as it was safe.

Of anyone else this might not be a fair criticism, but Newcombe and his group have set a higher standard for bravely treading concurrently backwards and forwards, blending an approach that is at the same time derivative and decidedly brave. That said, this show was not the place for rarities or B-sides, let alone breaking new ground.

That is not to say it was not very enjoyable – the vibe of the room was equal parts nostalgia and sheer fun.  There was much dancing, slapping of backs, and knowing glances exchanged between friends as their favourite songs were delivered true to the recorded versions.

Perhaps the silent hero of the day was the depth of layers provided by talented multi-instrumentalist Rob Campanella.  Tucked in the back corner of the stage behind the wall of guitar players, his meandering style filled out the sound and cut through the jangle.

‘Prozac Vs. Heroin’ seemed to slowly compress the vibe of the crowd in the way that one might wind up a tight spring. This energy was expertly released on the opening three-chord intro of ‘Servo’, with its signature guitar line getting the room bouncing in unison. The movin’ and shakin’ continued right through to ‘Oh Lord’.

And then, just like that, eight gentlemen departed the stage. Despite some rather loud and enthused encouragement from the crowd, the band did not yield to requests for an encore.  Respect.

Set List

Whoever You Are


Got My Eye On You



What You Isn’t

Days, Weeks And Moths


When Jokers Attack


Open Heart Surgery

You Have Been Disconnected

Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth

Prozac Vs. Heroin


That Girl Suicide

Oh Lord

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